{wild hymn journal} Does it really say, “Each one has a hymn?”

Does it really say, “each one has a hymn…” in 1 Corinthians 14:26

Ok. Let’s get specific here. This verse has been very important to me for a long time, and I hadn’t even connected it to my plan to record these wild hymns until I was deep in the process.

“When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” 1 Corinthians 14:26

Sitting still for an hour and hearing one man preach is usually how the gift of teaching is expressed in the Body of Christ. Sitting still for an hour and hearing one person (or group) sing is usually have a gift of songs is expressed in the Body of Christ. Sitting still and hearing one man encourage is usually how the gift of encouragement is expressed in the body of Christ. Ok, ok…

The scriptures go on to say that three or four should teach, three or four should speak in tongues…. WHAT?! You think, I’m not ready for all that stuff! Joni, what are you talking about!?

These are some of the defining things that the Lord has impressed upon Zach and I as our definitions of church fellowship continue to grow and change.

The point: In any group setting, many have something to offer. So, ok, maybe yours is not a song, but the essence is there. You have SOMETHING. Logistically not everyone can share, thus a distinction of “Let four or five….”, but it is a beautiful thing when there is space and time devoted to it.

Who allows for this in spiritual gatherings..or even friendly gatherings? The bold or confident people win, and the quiet people lose. I understand why it is hard logistically, but it is an important re-defining that needs to take place.

Just let me encourage you, that even when no one is asking for it, and even when you don’t feel ready…. it’s always the right time to share the good news of Jesus’ redemption in all the forms that Christ’s love is made manifest through our lives.

Half done, half perfect, half ready… Good news is always right on time.

All of these things must be done! That means you.

Give me courage to speak up! To share what I have. To listen with an open heart. To find You in the very people I have rejected or deemed unimportant! All of who You are reaching me through the Body of Christ all around me.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset



Read all of the {Wild Hymn Journal} here

To get updates and invitations for other rooms in Joni’s House, subscribe [yks-mailchimp-list id=”f23b6ab6ad” submit_text=”Keep me posted!”]

Wild Hymn Journal: Rose of Sharon

All {Wild Hymn Journal Posts}

Take Me Away

Secret Place (cry)


Rose of Sharon

Behind “Rose of Sharon”

I don’t know if I can write this out…. without a video, because a fire lights up in me over stuff like this! I know how it is. We are lucky if after all these years we have more than a handful of scriptures that are locked in our hearts and experience by faith. But the older I have gotten, the idea of learning just one line of Scripture makes my skin crawl. If you have ever known spiritual deception and its destruction, you know what I mean. Spiritual confusion put me in a sick bed once, a pit that wrecked my life for a short time, and I see the answers that I was craving were there in black and white all along. And by them, through revelation by the holy spirit,  I was made well.

Jesus had already given me everything I was flailing to grasp by my own efforts. Jesus is the Living Word, but the scriptures explain spiritual realities in real terms. Untangling my twisted gospel is what lifted my heart out of the inner-striving which had led to the chronic fatigue syndrome that landed me in bed after college for a year. I looked to the scriptures. I knew my answer was there, but my spirit struggled with the message of grace. I was determined to BE the deserving daughter. He had alreaady made me so by His gift of Christ to me.

And you’ll have to forgive me for sounding like the former English teacher that I am…. but it’s REAL. It’s all there, but if someone can’t see that sentence in the context of its paragraph, the paragraph above and below it, its chapter, its book, and especially its placement in either the old or new covenant!? No wonder there are so many different interpretations … and sick minds. When it comes to the bible, it really does make a life-size difference.

You misunderstand words when you don’t know where they’re coming from.Romans 4-8 cannot be understood unless they are read together.And anything in Romans 8 should not be taken alone without an understanding of the structure of the chapter as a whole. Entire ways of life are dangerously built on isolated scriptures.

It’s so important to me that I am creating materials about it as we speak. We say we don’t have time for meaningful things, but yet we feed on fiction and Disney. We may call the Bible the most important book in the house, but we don’t know how to interact with it. It takes patience and study and instruction, and nobody wants to do that. But as a parent, the least I can do is give my children a taste of what a chapter is like over simply learning a line or verse.

I know that over their lifetime at least two of these passages in Isaiah 35 will be quoted to them over and over. They were to me. I never put them together. I only discovered it years later, when I discovered the true heart of Isaiah 35.

(1) The highway that even fools can’t miss.(verse 8) How can you mess up a gift? You can’t…unless you believe it is not a gift and determine to work for it. That is the power of the gospel. Understanding that EVERYTHING from God comes as a gift changes everything. The only way to mess it up is to believe it is obtained or sustained by our actions.

So at all times, as I look for the solid rock to put my foot on… it’s the road I can’t miss…the promise which HE sustains–not me. It’s the news that Jesus gives wisdom freely, healing freely, provision freely, forgiveness freely! It’s IN HIM.

(2) The other phrase from Isaiah 35 that I know my children will encounter countless times in their life is the poetic stream in the desert image (“Waters break forth in the wilderness,”) (verse 6), which suggests, “Don’t worry, refreshing water is on the way. Surely, He will make a way. Lord, make a way. …. but that old covenant promise has been fulfilled in Christ. God DID make a way. Jesus IS the Way! He is the stream in the desert. Now! Rivers of living water that flow out of the heart of a believer! We wait on so many things that Christ has ALREADY given us! We just have not understood and believed the truth about what He has ALREADY done and promised! So we do not receive, experience that peace, that reality.

(3) Then there is the healing issue. (Verse 5) “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.”  As John needed to know before his death, Was Jesus really the promised Messiah? Jesus sent the answer (Luke 7:22). “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk.” Just as God has removed our sins which we experience by faith, he has removed our diseases (Isaiah 53/Psalms 103) which we also experience by faith. Healing came through Jesus, and now He lives in New Covenant reality IN US. As we rest firmly in these truths, the miracles of Jesus become everyday realities.

After praying for some aquaintances who were healed, they called me to pray for one friend’s aunt. When I arrived at the hospital, I thought I was praying for bed sores, but it had turned into terminal kidney failure. I was surrounded by strangers, and I did not know their background, but they had just asked me to pray. There was only one thing to say, “Lord, you said that you placed all sickness on Jesus, and that means that you bore this, and she doesn’t have to. So be it — in Jesus’ name.” I left after a few quick hellos and goodbyes.

She was completely and miraculously healed that day.

I hope that as you listen to Isaiah 35, you will consider these things as realities that are available to you and renew your mind to the FULL meaning of the scriptures in context. Ask Him Mark 16:20–to confim His Word to you with signs and wonders.  Let new understanding be written over the old lies of the heart which drive our emotions and actions in an endless spinning of waiting on God to do things He has already done. Take hold of the encouragement and move forward in faith. No longer doubting, no longer stuck! Thank you, God!

All {Wild Hymn Journal Posts}

Take Me Away

Secret Place (cry)


Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon on YouTube

Read all of the {Wild Hymn Journal} here

To get updates and invitations for other rooms in Joni’s House, subscribe [yks-mailchimp-list id=”f23b6ab6ad” submit_text=”Keep me posted!”]

Wild Hymn {A Home Recording Project}

What's your song? Are you still singing? Do you feel uninvited? Unannounced? Unmade? Un-ready? What's your #wildhymn "...each of you has a hymn.." 1 Corinthians 14:26 iTunes: https://itun.es/us/yjRo9 Free on Bandcamp: http://goo.gl/YVBwc8 Wild Hymn Journal/Stories:joninichols.net/wild-hymn-journal Follow: http://soundcloud.com/joninichols Full story: http://joninichols.net/wild-hymn youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbM4Fvpjf8o Bonus Songs for purchase at http://goo.gl/YVBwc8
What’s your song? Are you still singing? Do you feel uninvited? Unannounced? Unmade? Un-ready? What’s your #wildhymn “…each of you has a hymn..” 1 Corinthians 14:26
i1 Corinthians 14:26

Links: iTunes / Bandcamp / Wild Hymn Journal /
youtube / Bonus Songs for purchase (Sold Out)

{Read the Wild Hymn Journal –behind each song}


Oh, you know that back road path. The one no one wants to talk about, because everyone calls it “lost”, and yet it is your only way. It’s the path that the great writers only hint at between the lines of their greatest works when they just cannot quantify what caused them to arrive where they arrived.

I don’t know – it’s the space where my soul is growing, where you linger because The leaf just hasn’t unfolded yet. It’s where nothing and no one can find you, and you don’t need to be found.

“Where lunch will be weeds and heaven’s conversation,”I put it once.

There, yes, there, I recorded some songs on my old piano in the middle of a random August week.

To document and declare–I’m alive! The wilderness didn’t kill me. And the wild flowers are vase-worthy.

The great machine did not succeed in telling me I have no voice. Nor did the glamsuaries where songwriters became rockstars.

Here, I found the slow pace of growth. And everyday miracles. The nutritional value of locusts and honey. Where Jesus delivered the cream for my coffee – not metaphorical cream, but actual cream.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
Where prayer – laden kitchen table conversations produced overnight miracles – over and over and over. For me, yes, but better yet, for those I love.

Jesus is the abundant universe. I roamed the ends of the earth to rediscover Him.

And songs are for sharing.

My wild hymns.

Unsolicited, unrefined.

May we reconnect raw spirit to raw spirit and feel the rushing wind of God’s love, independent of the lush rug and lamp set up of today’s worship gurus and preaching goddesses.

Here in the dirt. Let’s have church.


Wild: 1. (of an animal or plant) living or growing in the natural environment.

{Read the Wild Hymn Journal –behind each song}

Here’s the journey of making the album: Read more

Letting wild things grow…. and some music news

I knew this was significant. I knew this summer was more than a metaphor. My whole being needing to step out into the heat, the sweat, the perfect scene that God has created and LET IT BE.

When did I stop letting the wild things grow?

How did I reach a point of despising the raw natural beauty of things? Too much to do. Turn up the AC already. The bugs, the heat, the sweat, the layer of damaged skin, the stench. But the bugs maintain the habitat;  the sweat is our detox;  the smell is the toxins leaving our body; the natural bronzing of a little sun gives natural highlights … you get it.

And when my friend posted this, I could have cried, because it was exactly what I had been thinking about and feeling about my life. In my efforts to tidy up what is productive and profitable, I risk pulling up all the good things that need to be left alone so that they can grow in their wild and natural element.  (One of those things I’ve been thinking about is my music.)

I love her caption.

I think I have tasted this truth before….  in a poem I wrote when I was recovering from what doctors called “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” at the time.

If you can let the day be new when you are not.

And let the sun be joy when you have none.

You know you’re gonna be alright.

That’s about how I’m feeling again.

I asked her to take pictures. (She is an incredible photographer…)  and then I couldn’t help myself.

See, I started with all of these home recordings years ago, making music for NO ONE. Just because I wanted to. When it caught some attention, I left that and sought to improve it…to be “legitimate.” And I let Nashville tell me I was not a real musician anymore. I’m telling you, these realizations did not come overnight. I’m not going on about this because it’s about me…. it’s about all of us and the natural element of the expression of who God made us to be and how he made us to function in the world.

People tried to tell me this, but I wasn’t ready, and I’m telling you when I began to desire to return to my natural element, encouragement began to come from strange places.

So in a sort of personal moment of reckoning, I’m just going to see what happens when I send a friend some recordings of my piano and me at home.  My songs in their raw and natural element with my not-perfectly-tuned piano and its squeaky broken pedal….. yeah, that. It’s not going to be glamorous or perfect….but to be COMPLETELY transparent, a decade is about to pass without me making more music since tons of recording and “In the Dark” in my 20s, and I’ve GOT to produce SOMETHING in my 30s.

When I asked some friends, “how do I do this without making a fool of myself,” they all said, “We loved your old raw recordings best anyway.” HUH?! Well then, it’s official. It’s a wild and natural theme. It means these recordings will have some heat, burn, and bugs. And they may smell a little. I’m gonna have to let it be.

Some new songs and rough demos of mine are on SoundCloud from these last few years, and more people than I realized have downloaded them, but you have to have an account, etc, and …… …..and….and iTunes already, ok. Here are two old hymns below….

I’ll keep you posted if you want to follow:

[yks-mailchimp-list id=”f23b6ab6ad” submit_text=”Join”]


Afraid of a normal life

In the change-the-world-generation, we learned to be afraid of normal. At least I think I did.

Was it that the American norms of speaking out, spreading ideas… freedom of speech… set our expectations too high?

Was it that materialistic baby boomers in the church emphasized the message of pursuing higher callings to their children because they secretly felt guilty for how far their generation had swung into materialism? ( I got that idea from Frank Viola in Pagan Christianity.)

Closing out the decade of my 30s has me stirred up with everything that’s going right and wrong in my life. Has me thinking about life lessons learned in my 20s & 30s. And it has brought into view a few goals before my 30s are gone. (Yeah, I know I said I would devote my blog to catching up on some of the back stories, but I also need to press on to some new goals at the same time.)

See, I’m too busy tackling ever-evolving projects to understand the fear of failure but I am realizing I may suffer from a fear of normal.

Just like the world of computers can be reduced to 0s and 1s, and genes are turned off and on,if  life can be reduced the light of knowing and believing the truth, or the darkness of ignorance fear,  and believing lies, then this fear of normal was eventually going to show itself, right?

Is this the thing that breeds comparison and jealousy even among the best of friends? Is this the thing that breeds fear at our spouses’ everyday attributes? Is this the thing that has us ever-asking which activities we should and shouldn’t invest in for ourselves and or kids….   while years pass beneath our feet?

What if normal just means whole? Balanced?
What if normal means everything in its place?
What if normal is best?

This weekend my husband and I were able to share a rare treat.  We are both musicians, so you would think we love seeing live music together. Not really. Rarely is it the same person that we want to see, and as a family, the logistics are bad for individual entertainment.

But we happen to both love the music of blues rocker Doyle Bramhall. And going together to see him live without our children was NOT normal. Go us!

Yet my heart was a little troubled as the weekend went on. [Insert the inner-dialogue of an person who is watching someone who is living the life I once thought I wanted.] Years of travelling the world with beautiful people has cost him his marriage and a life with his two daughters. My normal life in comparison was becoming a beautiful treasure.

Yet, I have trouble seeing it. I thought I was too old to be misjudging these kinds of things?

It’s time for me to look around and see the beauty in the normal things, to value my true treasures.

I can’t manage all of the desires big and small, some of which are probably just a piecemeal covering over my fear of being normal.

And, really, it’s not that revolutionary.  It’s never a bad time for recalibrating and re-directing. And relaxing into Phillippians 4:8.

“[W]hatever is [already] true, whatever is [already] honorable, whatever is [already] just, whatever is [already] pure, whatever is [already] lovely, whatever is [already] commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything [already] worthy of praise, think about these things.

Ruth has Think+About+These+Things+(Navy)+web this scripture as one of the prints in her beautiful shop… here in white and here in navy (pictured to the left) or on pinterest here. {I tried to embed the pin but couldn’t figure it out!}


[yks-mailchimp-list id=”f23b6ab6ad” submit_text=”Connect with me here.”]


From High School Teacher to Homeschooling Mom (My Story on homeschoolingwc.com)

I totally bought a t-shirt and little white iron-on letters to create my very own HOMESCHOOLER tshirt to post superman style <see it…. open the jacket…wait for it…. boom.> The inspiration passed, but the idea still makes me laugh. I never ever thought I would homeschool my children.  Not only did I teach public school; my whole family did (almost!) And I had a great experience IN public school, so I was not the typical person hoping to shelter my children from the horrors of public school.

If it freaks you out, I get it. I used to feel the same.

Home-schooling is not what it used to be. I had many misconceptions about it, but the typical homeschooler today is very different than the forerunners of our parents’ generation who had to blaze quite a trail with few resources.

I shared my personal story today via homeschoolingwc.com and I hope it can be an encouragement or just something of interest.  Read or share the story here.

If you are grappling with some of the pieces of the home school decision yourself, you can browse some past posts of mine on this topic here  and/or follow more of the educator part of my life in the school room where I’ve been sharing materials to help parents spend time with their kids in The Most Important Book in the House.

To get Rooftop Blog Posts and Updates and Invitations from other rooms in the house, enter your …

[yks-mailchimp-list id=”f23b6ab6ad” submit_text=”Lets Connect”]


Catching Up: a few favorites

This was from my mother's house. She was a librarian who loved poetry and people. This  describes her heart perfectly. Our first names have the same meaning, and my middle name means house. This is one of the legacies she passed to me.
This was from my mother’s house. She was a librarian who loved poetry and people. This describes her heart perfectly. Our first names have the same meaning, and my middle name means house. This is one of the legacies she passed to me.

Hey, if you are reading my blog for the first time ever, I’ve gathered up a few favorites.

On the dusty back roads of your life, I hope you’ve found my humble abode here the perfect stopping place for a little rest and re-direction.  On these kinds of roads, you meet all kinds of private kinks…. and choices….and faith is hard to grab onto or materialize when you most need it.  Those are the moments I am digging into.  When there’s no one there with the step 1,2,3, and platitudes about God have already been abandoned.  When the details matter about what you believe and hold onto, and what you let go of in order to survive. Read more